Leon Daniels Promotion of Cycling, and Vision Zero Failing

OnLondon have published a very interesting talk by Leon Daniels  – see link below. He was the former Managing Director of Surface Transport for TfL and “acted extraordinarily quickly” to implement the Cycle Superhighways. Indeed he suggests that he might have barged them through without properly considering the views of all interested parties and assessing the outcomes properly.

The reason he gives for their implementation was to cut the number of cyclist deaths on London’s roads and to tackle the air quality issue by encouraging more cycling. But he concedes that the cycling infrastructure has had a negative effect on bus speeds and “indeed for all traffic”.

His solution to end the war between different kinds of road users is a “self-healing” city although it’s not totally clear what he means by that.

Comment: Cycle superhighways and other cycling infrastructure have not cut cycling deaths and cycling is still very much the interest of a small minority so the reallocation of road space to them has had negligible impact on traffic. Indeed it has caused more traffic congestion and hence more air pollution. It was clearly a poorly thought through policy with unintended consequences.

You can read Mr Daniel’s talk here:

https://www.onlondon.co.uk/leon-daniels-london-cycling-and-the-self-healing-city/

Vision Zero is one of the policies being pursued by TfL to reduce road casualties. It promotes traffic speed reduction among other things. We have commented previously on how ineffective it has proved to be – see https://freedomfordrivers.blog/2019/07/29/mayors-vision-zero-strategy-failing/

Now there is similar evidence from the USA. Vision Zero is aimed at reducing deaths and serious injuries to zero, but in major US cities who have adopted the strategy they are far from achieving their target. In fact cyclist and pedestrian casualties in the USA have been increasing and the figures for individual cities show there are very mixed result. See https://www.citylab.com/newsletter-editions/2019/11/citylab-daily/602455/ and here  https://www.motorists.org/blog/do-vision-zero-programs-equal-more-traffic-accidents/ for details.

Vision Zero was a policy invented in Sweden in 1997. To quote from an OECD report on accident figures in Sweden: “The longer-term trend for road deaths in Sweden has been downwards trending. Between 2000 and 2018, the number of annual road fatalities fell by 45%. However, the trend in the decline of traffic fatalities has stagnated since 2010. The road fatalities total for 2018 is actually a 21.8% increase on 2010’s total”. It would seem that the policy is failing in Sweden also now.

Comment: Vision Zero is probably failing because it is like all simplistic road safety policies pursued by well-meaning but ignorant politicians. Having an objective which is widely publicised without a clear view on what measures will actually achieve it in the long-term is not helpful. Vision Zero seems to be diverting road safety resources from what is known to work to policies that don’t.

Roger Lawson

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Keep The USA Moving

The USA is traditionally where the motor car is king as public transport has been sparse while roads have been built to cope with demand. But it is changing with some cities introducing Vision Zero to improve road safety and policies called “Complete Streets” and “Road Diets”. Vision Zero is well known in the UK as it has been adopted for example in London but with minimal or zero impact (see https://tinyurl.com/y39v6nsy for a previous article on that subject).

Complete Streets are designed to make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work. They encourage more walking, cycling and use of public transport. Road Diets involve reducing the number of traffic lanes to provide wider sidewalks (pavements) or the addition of cycle lanes and bus lanes.

Some cities such as New York are also considering introducing congestion charges to cut traffic and reduce congestion.

In other words, US cities are moving in the same direction as cities in Europe and copying London despite the fact that the policies in London have actually increased traffic congestion rather than reduced it and otherwise damaged the transport network. But opposition to such policies is growing. There are particular concerns about the impact on businesses and on access by emergency service vehicles, but there is general opposition to the increased traffic congestion such policies create. This web site covers the issue well and includes a video showing how fire tenders are blocked: https://tinyurl.com/y67gjzjg and emergency service vehicles delayed. It also has an interesting chart showing how the adoption of Vision Zero in Los Angeles appears to have resulted in an increase in pedestrian fatalities.

But opposition is growing. See this web site for a national view (which also includes an interesting note on the Delphi Technique to manipulate public opinion): https://www.keeptheusmoving.com/

In Los Angeles there is a local group opposing such measures who are holding a conference on October 5th – see https://www.keeplamoving.com/ . It’s some years since this writer personally visited Los Angeles but there was horrific traffic congestion then on some freeways and other roads. Reducing road widths to support cycling just seems nonsensical to support a very small proportion of the population when distances people travel to work or to shop is so high. US cities are designed around the use of motor vehicles and the population are not going to change their ways.

I won’t be attending the conference in person but I have submitted a short video which discourages US residents from following the path taken in Europe. Go here to view the video: https://youtu.be/LxEkiycYQ04

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Mayor’s Vision Zero Strategy Failing

In 2018 the Mayor of London launched the Vision Zero strategy to reduce road casualties in the capital city. But road casualty figures for 2018 show that Killed and Seriously Injured (KSIs) on London’s road actually increased by 5% to 4,065 in 2018. Vision Zero is a key part of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Transport Strategy along with the encouragement for modal shift with the aim of getting more people walking and cycling.

However, cyclist fatalities actually rose by 20% to 12, and cyclist serious injuries rose by 14% to 770. Cycling is one of the most dangerous ways to travel so is this encouragement to cycling misconceived?

The trend in London KSIs matches the national picture where road deaths have plateaued in recent years. See chart below from the DfT report of national road casualties in 2018.

National Fatalities 2018

We will no doubt see renewed calls for lower speed limits and more enforcement, but the ABD has consistently argued that the focus on simplistic solutions to road safety problems, such as traffic speed reductions, cannot and will not work to cut the horrendous toll of road casualties. The encouragement of cycling is surely an example of an unintended consequence of a policy introduced with the best of intentions to improve the health of the population. In London enormous expenditure on Cycle Superhighways and cycle lanes of other kinds has been incurred in the last few years. This was justified on improving cycle safety but in reality the impact is not apparent. The encouragement of cycling may have actually made the road casualty statistics worse.

The ABD has argued that Vision Zero is a counter-productive road safety fantasy. We argue that more attention should be paid to road user education and road engineering. See our submission to Parliament’s Road Safety Transport Committee in April 2019 given below:

Evidence to Transport Committee 2019: Evidence to Transport Committee 2019-03-26

London Road Casualties 2018: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/casualties-in-greater-london-2018.pdf

National Road Casualties 2018: https://tinyurl.com/yy4ouonf

Postscript: With the appointment of Andrew Gilligan as a transport advisor to our new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who as former London Cycling Commissioner under Boris was a big contributor to the growth of cycling in the capital and what many argue is the wasted expenditure on Cycle Superhighways, will we see the same defective policies being spread across the country?

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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20 MPH Speed Limits Spreading in London

20 MPH Sign

Transport for London (TfL) have announced that 20 MPH speed limits are to be imposed on many central London roads. That will include many of the key arterial routes including:

Victoria Embankment, Upper/Lower Thames Street and Tower Hill, Albert Embankment, Millbank, Borough High Street, Blackfriars Road, Elephant and Castle roads and Aldgate “gyratory” even though that no longer exists.

These proposals are part of the “Vision Zero Action Plan” and Mayor Sadiq Khan’s Transport Strategy which the ABD has strongly opposed (see  https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/against-mts.htm for campaign details). It’s just another step in discouraging and impeding vehicle traffic which is adding to journey times and damaging London.

Will it have any impact on road casualties as claimed? Highly unlikely as the City of London wide-area 20-MPH scheme has demonstrated where there was no overall reduction in road accidents and minor casualties actually increased. The solution to road casualties is to look at where accidents occur and re-engineer the roads. Not more speed cameras and lower speed limits.

There is a public consultation and more details of the proposal you can access here: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/streets/20/ . PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU RESPOND TO THE PUBLIC CONSULTATION ASAP.

These are some of the comments the ABD has already submitted which you can copy:

“There proposals will not have any benefit for those walking and cycling but as it will slow bus journeys, the numbers travelling by bus will continue to fall as they have been lately, thus reducing TfL income.

As regards vehicle users, I think they will ignore the 20 limit as they do elsewhere if they consider the new speed limit inappropriate, as it undoubtedly will be in certain traffic conditions. It will just result in more speeding prosecutions which is already being used by the police to finance their operations by diversion to speed awareness courses – a totally unethical practice.

It will add delays to journeys. To minimise the impact, the solution would be to look at road engineering measures where too many accidents occur instead – and I don’t mean speed humps or tables which have a very negative impact on those with medical conditions. Indeed I would suggest that you are discriminating against the disabled by implementing raised tables.

A 20-mph speed limit will not reduce casualties as demonstrated by the statistics from the City of London’s 20 mph speed limit which actually resulted in minor accidents increasing and no overall benefit.

In summary we are opposed to these proposals in general, and there is no cost, or cost/benefit justification provided – this is yet another disgraceful example of a defective public consultation from TfL, with no simple question as to whether people support the proposals or not.”

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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